The short of my birth story is that I had about 55 hours of labor, only 8 of it with an epidural. I labored for many hours with and without pitocin, finally stalled out at 8cm which is when I gave in and had the epidural. I had been at 8 cm for several hours, and even after the epidural it took another 7 to get to 10. Thank goodness that my OB is patient and had the utmost respect in following my birth plan. The OR had been prepped for my C-section for many hours, but because my OB wanted to try every avenue for a vaginal birth, I was able to do it.
For anyone interested in my long-winded thoughts a couple days after the birth, this is what I journaled about my labor experience:
Atticus’s Birth Story
Born Saturday, July 18, 2009 at 4:28 am
8 pounds 15 ounces
19.5 inches long
Apgar scores: 8/9
Wednesday, July 15 – Dr. Groom swept membranes; began using breast pump for nipple stimulation; 1:00 am started having contractions 15 minutes apart until morning (slept only from about 4am to 7am, awaking during each contraction)
Thursday, July 16 – Contractions continued throughout the day, but were irregular (3 – 35 minutes apart); during the evening used breast pump, by 11:00 contractions were regularly 3 – 6 minutes apart; spoke with doula and decided to go to the hospital
Friday, July 17 – was officially admitted to hospital by 2:00 am dilated to 3 cm and contractions 3 – 6 minutes apart
Slept intermittently from about 3:00 am to 7:00 am; all morning labored with contractions coming often but not establishing a regular pattern; was dilated to 4 cm by early afternoon
During late morning decided with OB to use pitocin to get contractions regular and help dilation progress. Agreed to the lowest setting of 2 drops per half hour, only upping it with my knowledge and consent. Once regular contractions were established the pit would be turned off. At this point needed to use hypnobabies to get through the contractions, which were getting intense. A couple were 6 minutes long and some had very short breaks between. It was difficult, but was able to stay within myself for most of them and tolerate the pain, although it was much more considerable than laboring without pitocin.
By 6:00 pm I was dilated to 8 cm. The pitocin had been turned off (and had been turned up a couple of times slowly, up to 8 and eventually back down to 2 until turned off at 6:00 pm. At this point I was exhausted and was having lots of trouble getting through the contractions. I took off my ipod and began laboring standing up, walking, and swaying. I thought that I must be in transition because I was 8 cm and felt like I couldn’t take it anymore. I had presence of mind enough to think that I must be moving along to 10 cm well because “isn’t this how people feel in transition”. So I labored like that, just about beyond my tolerance of exhaustion (hadn’t really slept since Tuesday night) because I thought an end was near. At 7:45 the nurse checked me and told me I was still 8 cm. I knew I couldn’t take it anymore without progressing. Had I progressed at least to a 9 I think I could have continued knowing an end was in sight, but after almost 2 hours of no pitocin but still very intense contractions I just couldn’t tolerate the pain anymore. I was unable to relax my body through them and felt like the pain was controlling me. I took about 20 minutes more to finally decide I needed an epidural and went through lots of tears having made my decision. Everyone there marveled at me (2 of my girlfriends, my wonderful doula, and my husband) that I had endured as much as I had and comforted me exactly how I needed to be comforted: “You are not failing because you are getting an epidural” and other sincere comments of support.
At 8:15 pm I got the epidural and allowed my almost 5 year old son to be in the room. Everyone came in and rested/slept a bit. I had an anxiety attack, afraid to fall asleep for a long time because I was afraid that the epidural would make me fall asleep and never wake up again. After about an hour I was able to calm down and rest up some.
I thought that I’d hit 10 cm fast since now I was relaxed and resting. I figured that because it was so intense for me that my body wouldn’t finish dilating. So wrong! I did not get to 10 cm until 3:00 am Saturday morning. During this time I was reconciling in my head that I’d be having a c-section. I figured that because I wasn’t able to dilate with pitocin, without pitocin, using no epidural, or with an epidural that the call would be made to get the baby out. In addition, the baby was not always tolerating the contractions well. He was decelerating after the contractions, not during them, which can be a worry. The nurses kept trying different things (working with my OB) like having me lay on my side, giving me oxygen, changing the pitocin amount (up to a 20 at one point – I can’t imagine how much pain that must be with no epidural since I could barely tolerate an 8) so they could both keep the baby safe and get me to dilate. I later found out that the OR had been waiting for me for many hours – the crew there was wondering why I never showed up.
Saturday, July 18 – I finally dilated to 10 and began pushing at 3:15 am. It took 9 hours to go from 8 cm to complete – I was so thankful that I hadn’t continued trying to go natural.
My son was so excited to be there, but shortly after I began pushing my husband had to rush him home for a medical reason (he has diabetes and needed something for that). Unfortunately they didn’t make it back in time to see the birth.
I was so exhausted! I hadn’t had a good sleep since Tuesday night. I didn’t think I could push long and hard enough to get the baby out. I assumed I’d be getting a c-section. The OB came at around 4:15 and I asked him immediately to get the vacuum out. The epidural had run out, I could feel pain with each contraction, and found the strength to push through them only because it was the only thing that made the pain stop. I had the urge to sleep between every contraction, but just as I’d fall asleep I’d jerk myself awake, afraid I wouldn’t be able to wake up and push with the next contraction. I had been pushing for a long time, had no energy left, and the baby was barely coming down the birth canal. The OB told me later that after watching me push a few times he noticed that the baby would descend enough for the tip of his head to come out like it was being suctioned out, and as soon as I stopped pushing he would bounce back into the birth canal as if on a spring. After he saw that he acquiesced to my request and got out the vacuum.
It took a few pushes with the vacuum. The OB did not pull him out at all. He just did what the baby wasn’t doing – turning in the birth canal so that I could push him out. The OB gave him a bit of a twist as I pushed and the baby came out in about 8 pushes. I started sobbing at the relief of the experience being over. I couldn’t believe it was done! Everyone around me waited – no one said a thing, until finally the baby was turned in a way for me to see he was a boy. It was a beautiful moment! The OB put him on my chest as soon as he cried, though the cord was short so he laid on my tummy instead of at my breast. I got to hold him for a long time while his apgar score was taken and whatever other stuff they do was done. Atticus was 8 pounds 15 ounces – yeah, I build them big! I had a small tear that required only 1 or 2 stitches.
All of my wishes were happily consented to – the hospital staff was phenomenal! They stuck to my birth plan without any complaint. I was asked before any interventions were given, and when I didn’t consent they were fine with that. Even when I did consent to the pitocin I spoke directly with my doctor about how it would be administered and had control of when it would be turned off. When I was not progressing past 8 cm I had resigned to a c-section – I simply had no energy and felt I didn’t have much fight left in me. My OB, knowing I wanted the fewest interventions possible, kept in touch with the staff through this entire ordeal and never took the easy/convenient way out. After the birth I felt good knowing that I had done everything my way and used interventions only when I felt the medical need to do so. I have to say that having a doula there was an extraordinary experience. I believe they should be a part of every birth. She did a terrific job getting me through the hardest parts of labor, helping me make all decisions, getting me what I needed, and being a wonderful emotional support.
After the fact, I found out that my mother, sister, and grandmother all had similar labor experiences. My sister, who was working towards a homebirth, had to transfer to the hospital after 4 hours of pushing to get an epidural and still had to push for another (no kidding) 6 hours to get her baby out. She had a similar experience with her first son but wasn’t able to get an epidural for that birth. I know, for me, that I was one of the ones who needs some medical help during birth (apparently that runs in my family!). I love that I was able to do everything possible to have a natural birth, but am thankful to have had medical help when I needed it. I am also truly grateful that my OB respected my wishes and intervened only when asked (I had to insist twice he get the vacuum, telling him I didn’t have the energy to push the baby out alone, and even then he knew saw that I could push the baby out without him yanking on him by simply turning him as I pushed).
Jordana, mama to almost 8 year old Evan, 3 year old Atticus, and 1 year old Tabitha - my gifts from heaven
You are one strong mama! Great big hugs to you! Welcome little Atticus! (LOVE the name!)
Momma to DD (12/04) and DS (11/09) .
I survived 16 mos! Ask me about breastfeeding a baby with posterior tongue tie, high palate, and weak oral motor skills- whew!
Enjoy that sweet little one.
Peaceful mama to three blissfully-birthed and incredible small people: dd10, dd7 and ds5. Always awed and so thankful to be a midwife.
Proud Mama to DS1 09/07 , DD 07/09 , and DS2 06/11 . Feeling more and more blessed with each day!
again, congratulations on your birth, mama.
ashley medschool mama, married to my sweetie , mama to edie q born 07/09 and "bean #2" due 12/12 , loving our life!